14 February 2019

Zimbabwe: Farm Workers' Allowances Increased

Farm workers will have a little cheer after their employers increased their accommodation, transport, fuel and light allowances with effect from January 1, 2019.

The allowances were reviewed following months of negotiations as both farmers and employees sought ways to cushion the latter against the rising cost of living.

In an interview, National Employment Council (NEC) for the Agricultural Industry chief executive David Madyausiku, said the farm workers' allowances were last increased in 2009.

On February 8, 2019, the negotiating parties agreed that, "The NEC Agriculture comprising the social parties that is ZEO, ZCFU, ZFU, CFU, ZTGA, KPA, IKPA, TPA, ZCFA, HVPSF, Agro processors, horticulture employers' representatives on the employer side, GAPWUZ, HGPAWUZ and KWUZ on employees' side have agreed on allowances for all sub sectors in the agriculture industry effective 01 January 2019."

Accommodation allowance was reviewed from $35 to $55, fuel (firewood) is now pegged at $15 from $10 and light (candles) standing at $12 from $8.

"We have made an agreement in long outstanding allowances that were last negotiated in 2009. It was a break through," said Madyausiku.

Government recently led by example by paying an allowance to civil servants. This is on top of the negotiated salary adjustments.

He spoke against industrial actions such as protests and stay-aways, which he said were counterproductive as time was lost. Mr Madyausiku said there were "alternative dispute resolutions" which give room for wage or salary negotiations.

"Tools down doesn't help either parties (employees and employers) therefore, it's better to settle matter amicably. As a country, we cannot meet economic growth targets if workers spend precious time on strike," said the NEC for Agriculture boss.

His comments come in the wake of recent violent protests by hoodlums organised by the civic society and opposition parties like the MDC-Alliance to disrupt smooth flow of business. Some of the violent protesters have since been jailed. Mr Madyausiku said various sectors -- horticulture, agro processing, tea and coffee, Kapenta, timber, cane production and general agriculture were negatively by the protests.

"Agriculture is the backbone of our economy and it feeds many other industries, hence the so-called stay away had unwanted effects on the sector. As you are aware in horticulture which covers vegetables, farmers deal with perishables such as flowers, peas and beans. Going through a whole week without business activity affected both the farmer and the consumer.

"The agro sector deals with processing of beef and chickens. There was little or no activity in the industry due to the protests. As the regulator of the agriculture industry, we urge for harmonious working relations between the worker and the employee.

He went on, "We are dealing with a delicate industry which can negatively affect all the other sectors include food security; hence we have to make sure there is continuous production on farms. Those who deal with tobacco should not be disturbed as the crop requires special attention at every stage.

"We support President Mnangagwa's vision of attaining an upper middle class income by 2030. This needs hard work even in our agriculture sector."

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